Paul Davies AM has confronted the First Minister as he stood up for the exasperated Association of School and College Leaders, who have been driven to publish an open letter to Minister for Education Kirsty Williams, pleading for a better deal for schools across the country.
The First Minister faced questions from Mr Davies in the chamber about the damning letter, which described a ‘severe funding crisis’ in Welsh schools. Mr Davies demanded answers on why schools aren’t being equipped with the resources needed to support the next generation of learners.
Schools across Wales have struggled for decades under Labour-led Governments, with the situation reaching a crisis-point in the eyes of education experts.
Despite the Barnett Formula and according to the NASUWT Teachers’ Union, pupils in Wales receive £645 less per head than those in England. Schools are being assigned a ‘totally inadequate level of funding’ and concerns have also been raised over a non-transparent system that sees £450 million of education funding never reach the classroom.
As a result of this poor approach by the Welsh Government, teachers are reporting rising class sizes, the cutting of non-compulsory activities, and decreasing numbers of support staff. Professionals continue to leave the profession in droves, with 1,416 fewer teachers employed in Wales in 2018 compared with 2010.
The stark warning from the ASCL urges the Welsh Labour-led Government to do more to address the mismanagement of funding for schools, which it says threaten reforms to the education system, and could see budget deficits becoming the norm in schools across the country.
Speaking outside the chamber, Paul Davies AM said:
“Regrettably, the Welsh Labour Government continues to dismiss the serious concerns of the education workforce, and as a result we have a system here in Wales which is not consistent and has no transparency.
“We see some schools, especially in rural areas, miss out on vital funding purely because of their location.
“Welsh Conservatives have a long-standing policy to fund schools directly, which would remove significant layers of bureaucracy to ensure more money gets into the classroom and to learners.”